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Influence of Clay, Calcareous Microfossils, and Organic Matter on the Nature and Diagenetic Evolution of Pore Systems in Mudstones

Lookup NU author(s): Eliza Mathia, Emeritus Professor Mark ThomasORCiD, Professor Andrew Aplin



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


©2018. The Authors. Mudstones exert a fundamental control on the flow of both aqueous and nonaqueous fluids in sedimentary basins. Predicting their flow and storage properties requires an understanding of pore size and connectivity, yet there are very few quantitative descriptions of pore systems of mineralogically and texturally well-characterized mudstones. We use a combination of electron microscopy, mercury injection capillary pressure porosimetry, and CO2 sorption methods to generate a quantitative description of the size distribution, connectivity, and evolution of pore systems in a sequence of Posidonia Shale mudstones buried to 100–180 °C. We place the pore data into a detailed mineralogical, petrographical, and textural context to show that the nature and evolution of porosity and pore systems can be described in terms of associations with clay-rich, microfossil-rich, and organic matter-rich domains, common to many mudstones. Pore size distributions are described by power laws, and pore systems are well connected across the full nanometer-micrometer spectrum of pore sizes. However, connected networks occur primarily through pores <10 nm radius, with typically 20–40% of total porosity associated with pores with radii < ~3 nm, within both organic matter and the clay matrix. Clay-rich, microfossil-rich, and organic matter-rich domains have distinct pore size distributions which evolve in very different ways with increasing thermal maturity. We suggest that the flow of aqueous and nonaqueous fluids depends not only on the overall connectivity of pores but also the larger-scale connectivity and wetting state of clay-rich, microfossil-rich, and organic matter-rich domains.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mathia EJ, Rexer TFT, Thomas KM, Bowen L, Aplin AC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

Year: 2019

Volume: 124

Issue: 1

Pages: 149-174

Print publication date: 26/02/2019

Online publication date: 28/11/2018

Acceptance date: 25/11/2018

Date deposited: 15/02/2019

ISSN (print): 2169-9313

ISSN (electronic): 2169-9356

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1029/2018JB015941


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